Certification recognizes ag park’s excellence

The ag park just west of Fort Dodge – Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation – made an important step forward this week. It became one of the first four industrial sites in the Hawkeye State to achieve recognition through the certified site program of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. This achievement was announced in Des Moines by Gov. Terry Branstad Monday.

This IEDA initiative began in 2012. It is designed to certify locales that are considered development-ready. To achieve this status the local ag park had to meet rigorous criteria. To achieve certification a site must have land for sale with an established price. It must have both utility and transportation infrastructure or a plan to put them in place. And it must be developable. In essence, it must be one of the most outstanding locations for potential business investment in the state. And it must be able to accept new projects quickly.

The process of documenting that the certification standards have been met took about two years. It was an effort that was well worth the hard work it took. The certified sites are on a fast track for receiving corporate development dollars.

“They’re taking all the risk out of that site,” said IEDA Director Debi Durham, during the announcement ceremony, explaining why certification matters to investors. “They’re looking at the air permitting, they’re looking at the archaeological, they’re making sure there are no wetlands they have to mitigate.”

That means that potential corporate decision makers can choose to locate at a certified site with less worry about surprises emerging that could delay a project’s speedy completion.

The governor emphasized that point in his remarks.

“Economic developers, site selectors, they’re looking for a site that’s ready,” Branstad said Monday. “Once they make a decision they want to be able to move very quickly. They also want the permitting process to be swift. You really have to have your ducks in a row, so to speak.”

Here in Webster County, that’s exactly what has taken places at the Crossroads site.

The local ag park is already booming. This important acknowledgment of its readiness for even more forward movement should contribute to additional success in the months and years ahead.

The Messenger salutes the many local leaders who have worked collaboratively through the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and other bodies to make the Crossroads of Global Innovation a stellar project. Iowa is showing other states how to make economic progress happen. We are delighted that Fort Dodge and Webster County are at the forefront of that effort.